Members of United Campus Workers of Arizona — the University of Arizona’s and Arizona State University’s wall-to-wall campus workers union — and their allies gathered outside of the UA Administration building on Thursday, Sept. 30, to demand changes to what they consider dangerous and irresponsible public health policies.
In a press release from Sept. 29, UCWAZ announced the following day’s gathering on the UA campus, as well as a protest taking place on ASU’s campus.
In this release, titled “Funeral for Public Health,” UCWAZ stated that they would “protest irresponsible public health policies of the State of Arizona and university administrations,” as well as “mourn the ‘death’ of leadership in protecting public health and safety at Arizona’s public universities, while demanding that they step up and do the right thing.”
The protest followed the recent success of lawsuits challenging state laws that banned mask and vaccine mandates, which were recently ruled unconstitutional by Maricopa County judge Katherine Cooper. Despite that universities are now permitted to mandate vaccinations under state law, the Arizona Board of Regents stated that COVID-19 protocols would not change.
At the demonstration, union members and their allies held signs demanding change, as well as mock headstones “mourning” the loss of health, safety, trust, learning and security due to leadership failures on the part of public university administrations and ABOR.
“[We are] pushing the administration to follow through with an idea that President Robbins basically already said would be ideal,” said Nick Halsey, a UCWAZ press contact and a senior lecturer in the UA’s English department. “And to implement a vaccine mandate, so I think that has become our, the prime point that we are voicing.”
Numerous speakers spoke and led chants, demanding that the UA agree to their five demands, which were detailed on a handout given to protest attendees:
- COVID-19 vaccine requirement with appropriate medical/religious exemptions
- Required, regular COVID-19 testing to stop the spread in our community
- Masks in all indoor campus spaces except for private offices and dorm rooms
- Remote learning/teaching/work options for all who need them
- Hazard pay for in-person workers
Speakers included members of UCWAZ, Jobs with Justice and Pamela Hannley, a member of the Arizona House of Representatives from District 9.
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